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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report 1/30/2018 ~ Skwalas!

The last few days have been pretty darn good for my guests on the Lower Yuba River. So good that we have not even put on a nymph or a streamer. It's been all dry flies. Due to a low snow pack, and lack of precipitation, the Yuba County Water Agency has dropped the flows again with a target flow of 900 cubes coming out of Englebright dam. Deer Creek is currently flowing at 106 cfs and dropping a little bit by the hour. Fishing pressure has been moderate, and if you don't like crowds, hike away from the masses. 

Skwala stones are out in good numbers. The weather forecast will favor more adults to be active during this warm sunny weather. The trout are really keyed in on them in the late afternoons and will migrate into side water while looking up.

Lots of mating already going on, with females ovipositing their black egg clusters as they ride the bubble lines of foam downstream. Size matters, and many commercial patterns are way too big. You can see pictured above just how much bigger the female is.

The biggest surprise so far this year has been the amount of Skwala shucks near and downstream of major riffles. After the deluge of high water during the winter of 2017, I thought for sure we would see much lower populations. The bugs have proved me wrong.

When it comes to the mayflies, the weather can, and will greatly affect the hatch. Yesterday we had clouds, and the hatch was good. Today was bright and sunny, and the hatch was very sparse. I usually rig my guests up with a bwo, pinky, or pmd patterns to 5x to start out with, but if the hatch is not coming on strong, I will switch them over to 4x and the Skwala stone, and stick with that rig until the day is done.

Still lots of Gray Drakes out, but many go unmolested as they drift downstream, I'll see trout eat a few, but with how many of them are out, I'm a bit surprised.

The Gray Drake is from the swimmer family of mayflies. They will very rarely hatch midstream like a March Brown, or a bwo. They crawl out onto a rock and hatch just like a stone fly, leaving a shuck as evidence. Notice their big paddle tails that propel them around quite efficiently.

We've hooked into some bigger fish lately running 15 to 16", but they have not ended up in the net. Their girth is big compared to the smaller specimens, and during the fight they go ape shit putting on aerial displays and tail walking across the water. The bigger fish are smarter too, always looking to wrap you up in underwater structure.

My approach to fishing the Yuba this time of year is much different than other guides and anglers. I look at is as observing and hunting, while covering water, fan casting near to far, and choosing many different water structures to make presentations in. My guests today are avid duck hunters, and they thoroughly enjoyed my way of fishing the Yuba River. Brian, pictured above, with one of the bigger fish on that left his heart pounding for quite some time afterwards. So awesome to see! 

Recent rains have greened up the surrounding land, it is truly beautiful right now on the river. Sunny weather lies ahead for quite some time, which equals perfect Skwala conditions. See you on the water...

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report - 1/25/2018

The Lower Yuba River is fishing well for hose that seek the dry fly game, unreal conditions with an abundance of bugs depending on the day – And that’s just it, every day is different. Currently the flows are dropping. The Yuba peaked at 1,597 cubes early this morning and Deer creek maxed out at 554 cfs. Water clarity will be dirty for a few days. Before this last storm blew through, the water was slightly stained with about 3 feet of visibility. 

The hatches have been great on most days with many different players involved. BWOs, PMDs, Gray Drakes, a few Skwalas, and I found a March Brown adult last Monday. The trout are totally keyed in on the Blue Wings in a size 18. Sparkle Duns and Puyon’s Loop Wing parachutes have been the most effective patterns. A good rule to follow is to expect mayfly hatches on cloudy drizzly days, and when the sun is out with warmer weather, the Skwala is more active – They love that. The dry fly fishing has been so good that my guests and I have not even fished a nymph rig, or made swinging presentations. 

Last Monday, Lance Gray and I held our first Yuba Tour for 2018. During the entomology class we were quite surprised at the abundance of the sampling. It was the best sampling in the last 3 years. Baetis, PMDs, March Browns, Epeorus, Skwala, Golden, and Stub Wing stones, and a freshwater shrimp. Amazing.

As soon as the river comes back into shape it will be game on again. There are some bigger fish in the system as a guest of ours hooked into an 18 incher during the Tour. The rainbow ate a BWO parachute. By the way, Lance and I have opened a new date for a Yuba Tour, It will be March 1st. Contact Lance if you want in. Can’t wait to get back on the water and hunt some heads. See you out there…

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

International Sportsman's Expo - Sacramento Wrap Up

The 2018 International Sportsman's Expo in Sacramento did not disappoint, and though it is not an entirely fly fishing only show, it offers many other products and services from other exhibitors like camping, RVing, and boating. For myself it's a great time. I'm able to reconnect with my friends within the fly fishing industry that I don't get to see too often due to our hectic work schedule through out the year. It's also a real pleasure to able to give back with quality presentations to the masses at large, and educate them on the finer points of fly fishing.

It would be awesome to see more fly fishing guides and companies involved with this show. The numbers may not add up for pure profit, but to show face and to share the passion of fly fishing, is priceless. Thanks to all those in the industry that showed up, without you fly fishing would not be the same. Special thanks to ISE's John Kirk for the invite to speak, and Lance & Kirstin Gray for allowing to help out in their booth. I look forward to the 2019 show - Be there!

Richard Anderson, the man behind the best magazine in the business.
Master casting instructor and all around good guy Jeff Putnam.

Matt Heron from Matt Heron Fly Fishing wowing the general public with  a quality casting demo.
Master Fly Tier Bud Heintz spinning up his special dry flies that trout love.
Trout Unlimited California educating those on fisheries conservation and being good stewards.
Nor Cal Guide Dan LeCount teaching the future of our sport how to fight a fish.

See you at the Fly Fishing Show in Pleasanton, stay tuned for more details!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report 1/16/2018 ~ Top Water Game Is On!

The perfect day on the water. We’ve all experienced a few, and when it plays out you wished time stopped so the encounter lasted forever. It could be a number of different scenarios that makes a unique day so special. Like a video on loop mode it plays over and over in your mind after the event is long over, and you can’t get enough of it. The 15th of January was one of those days. Current conditions on the Lower Yuba River have the flows back down to 1,070 cubes, and the water has some color to it with about 3 feet of visibility to it. Deer and Squirrel creeks are running fairly clear for the most part so the source of stained water derives from the upper forks of the Yuba River entering Englebright reservoir. 3 feet of visibility is all that is needed for those Yuba rainbows, if the food is drifting overhead, they will eat.  The fishing pressure was moderate above the Parks Bar bridge, yet so many anglers were lost in their approach. You don’t huck a bobber when fish are rising for five different bugs drifting among the currents.

The Skwala stonefly hatch has started, I saw a half dozen in the foam line today but with so many hatches of different aquatic insects, they rode the currents unmolested. It won’t take much time for those fish to figure it out. The Yuba River is a freak show when it comes to hatches, and it does not follow the annual seasonal appearances like a classic Sierra freestoner. PMD’s, BWO’s, Pseudos, and the grand finally – Gray Drakes were all present.

There were a lot of Drakes out and the fish noticed their presence. It’s awesome to see the bugs rejuvenate after the floods of 2017, they are so hardy and resilient. Yep, the perfect day, in all its glory. The weather had much to do with the outstanding conditions my guest and I witnessed today. Clouds at first, then a slight west wind poured in, and with it bands of fog. Mayflies love damp conditions. The sun would peek out from time to time, and the hatches would stop, but when the clouds came back, the bugs flourished once again.

It doesn't take much to move cobblestones. The last storm was enough to do so according to the picture above. This no name seasonal creek that enters the Yuba River upstream of the Toilet Bowl on the Yuba Drifters property dispensed a lot of material into the river. Enough cobblestones to cut the river's size in half and change the structure of the current run. Amazing.

My best advice for hooking into a few wild trout is to place yourself in a productive section of the river from 11 am to 3pm, dry fly in hand. If you spend enough time on the river you’ll figure out areas that have fish rising day in and day out. When approaching a pod of rising fish, make calculated presentations, and if the results are sub-par, quit casting and rest them. You may need to switch flies. What worked today may not work tomorrow. Effective dry flies today were Andre Puyon’s Loop Wings with accurate tails of micro fibbets, both in PMD and BWO versions, and for the Gray Drakes, a size 10 Adams parachute. 

For the Skwalas, the proven pattern of the Unit Skwala is my choice. So many commercial patterns for the Skwala stone are way too big. The female is much bigger than the male and often has a black iridescent egg sack hanging off its ass. For the color of the skwala stone, think of different tones of spicy brown mustard with a little olive mixed in. That’s the color. Hogan Brown is spot on when he labels the Skwalas as the most overrated hatch. It’s true because of the hype that comes with the marketing of guides within our industry. If you are experienced, then you truly know the game of the Willow fly. The same patterns I’ve listed for nymphing in the past month are still solid. For swinging, Black leeches, minnow patterns, and Pheasant tail softies would be my first choices.

We’ve got some much needed precipitation coming in this week, light rain at first with a stronger system coming in on the horizon. Snow levels will be lowering as well. Check the gauges, calculate your plan of attack, and be smart about your approach to active rising tout. Winter time on the Lower Yuba is truly about the experience. See you on the water… 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The "Newba" Yuba Article ~ California Fly Fisher

Check out the February issue of California Fly Fisher magazine and my article The "Newba" Yuba. Read the story line covering the winter of 2016 -2017 and the powerful atmospheric rivers that changed the Yuba River. Great insight on the fishery, the habitat, and where an angler can expect to find the native wild rainbows and steelhead that lie within today. Pick up a copy at your local fly shop and enjoy the read!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Lower Yuba River Update 1/9/2018

The dominate ridge of high pressure finally left the west coast allowing for the storm door to open last week. We got a pretty good soaking last Friday night, and by Saturday morning Deer Creek jumped up to 537 cubes raising the Lower Yuba River to 1,572 cfs. I went and fished that day and to check on conditions. Water clarity was dirty with about 2 feet of visibility and there was a lot of debris in the flow. 

The flows came down during the day and there was a really good hatch of PMDs, BWOs, Pinkies, and the occasional brown dun fluttering by in the wind. We saw one fish rise the entire day. I was a bit surprised by that.

Our current storm brought the flows up to 4,048 cubes early this morning and Deer Creek topped out at 1,862 cfs. Squirrel Creek feeds into Deer Creek below Lake Wildwood and is a major sediment producer on its own, and when the two creeks are combined its obvious why it colors up the Lower Yuba River. Englebright dam has not spilled over yet, but it is close at 96% of capacity. 

I’m not sure when the river will drop and clear so it’s just a waiting game right now. High and dirty water tactics like swinging black leeches, white Slump Busters, or nymphing with bacon and eggs would be a good start. During my recon mission today Hammon Grove Park was open. Yuba County Parks and Rec department’s office has told me differently. I really don’t have an answer for that situation either. See you out there…

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Upcoming Events - January 2018

Welcome to my new monthly addition to my blog posts, "Upcoming Events" will streamline what's going on with the latest from myself and Baiocchi's Troutfitters. First up is a new podcast from The Barbless Podcast featuring an interview with me reminiscing about my home waters in the 1970's, tips on blogging, high stick nymphing, the Yuba River, The Truckee River, Lake Davis, Frenchman Lake, Jay Fair, and much more! Click here, turn up the volume, and check it out;

On January 10th I will be in Santa Rosa speaking to the Russian River Fly Fishers at their monthly club meeting with my "Mastering the Dry Fly" presentation. The meeting starts at 7 pm and will be held at the Santa Rosa Vet's Building, 1351 Maple Ave, Santa Rosa, Ca. This presentation is free and open to the public. For more information, go there website HERE

The International Sportsmen's Expo comes to Sacramento on January 18-21. I will be presenting my dry fly program on Friday the 19th at 4:30 pm at the fly fishing theater, and again on Saturday the 20th at 5:30 pm. I will also be casting on the pond with my program "Timing & Finesse vs. Brawn & Mediocrity" on Friday at 4:30 pm, and on Saturday at 3:30 pm. For a complete listing of exhibitors, schedules, and presenters click HERE 

Lance Gray and I will be hosting two Yuba Tours on the 22nd, and on February 8th. We will share access areas, rigging, entomology, techniques, and guided fishing. Handouts, mapping, and a stream side lunch is included. Cost is $145 per angler and limited to 6. To secure your spot, contact Lance at lancegrayandcompany@yahoo.com

On the 25th I will be at the California Fly Fishers Unlimited Tech Meeting in Sacramento and sharing my knowledge of how I approach the Yuba River. I'll be tying flies, rigging leaders, and explaining the new structure changes of the river. This meeting is for club members only. If you would like to join the club and get in on the tech class click HERE

That's the schedule so far for the month of January, if I have any additions, you can find them on my website's "News" page HERE 

See you on the banks of the Yuba River...

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report 1/2/2018

Happy New Year! A new start, to a new year, while stalking the banks of the Newba River. The Lower Yuba River has been on auto pilot for that past 3 weeks or more with bright and warm sunny weather, and the occasional hazy day. The winter solstice has come and gone, and the days grow longer from this point forward. Flows have been on auto pilot as well running right around 1060 cubes, though today they dropped it to 977 cfs for a short time, and then jacked it up again. Typical Yuba County Water Agency. Speaking of the YCWA, their official statement for the long term forecast of releases from Englebright dam states “With the current dry forecast and below normal snow pack, the long-term forecast is that the flows from Englebright Reservoir will continue at 1050 cfs until January 15. After January 15, releases from Englebright Reservoir may be further reduced if the dry weather pattern continues.” Increasing clouds and a light rain is on the horizon from Wednesday through Saturday, then another possible shot the following Tuesday and Wednesday. We shall see what transpires with the weather, if anything it will boost the mayfly hatches which is always a good thing. 

Sycamore Ranch and the boat ramp will be closed until March 5th due to construction. The county will be replacing the electrical systems that was damaged by the flood of 2017. I spoke with Yuba County Parks and Rec and was told that Hammon Grove would be closed as well, but it is currently open. You may have to get creative taking your boat at Hammon if it remains open. Fishing pressure remains moderate, and to be honest it’s been nice meeting some quality people on the river that truly enjoy the experience of just being out there. I also want to say thanks to those who shared their appreciation for my blog and the fishing reports, like I’ve told you, I do this for you folks, and also to share my passion and knowledge of fly fishing, and the great outdoors.

I’ve been a bit under the weather with a mild cold, but I’ll be damned if that’s going to stop me from getting out. Last Friday’s trip was rewarding as I got to share a little insight on presenting tiny dry flies in rougher water with my guest. I think many anglers would be surprised that you can raise a trout in big riffles, or see the rise forms within them. It takes many years and experience on the water to notice the subtle splashy rises in rougher water, or to see the tip of a nose break from the water’s surface. Most anglers are focused on the flats when it comes to making presentations with dry flies, if you can read other types of water, the door opens a little bit more. Overall the fishing remains pretty decent. No legitimate fish in the net this week, but spunky wild bows from 8 to 12”. I have not been nymphing at all, but some of my other buddies have and its also been the same patterns as my last report; Jimmy Leg Stones #8 & 10, Skwala stonefly nymphs #10, Hogan’s S&M nymphs in olive #18, Lance’s X-Mays in olive #18, eggs, and Squirmy Wormies in red and natural. 

The pinnacle of the day is all about waiting for, or when, the hatch will come off. Again, it’s been consistent but there are so many variables to the equation that it can be rather confusing to those that are new. Every day is different with the hatch, and it can vary if you are upstream of the bridge, or downstream. Even from run to riffle it can vary with the amount of bugs hatching and the species. So for an angler to be proficient, observation, and a good stocked fly box with many different sizes and colors of mayfly patterns will be more successful than others who are not prepared. Last Friday was very inactive and the hatch was light. With more bugs on the water’s surface, more fish take notice and set up an observation post to receive the food that is drifting downstream in the foam line. 

Today started out with a few bugs, but as soon as the cloud cover came in, more mayflies appeared. In the last few weeks I have not seen the Pinkies or the Pseudos out, but the typical winter BWO in a size 18, and every now and then a PMD in the mix. There are a few winter stones out too. The big surprise today was seeing the first Skwala shuck from a recent emergence. Most likely, there will not be many of them this year, but it only takes a few to get those trout interested. We’ll know more when we are deep into February.

Clay Hash and Peter Burnes from Gold Country Fly Fishers installed Salmon redd awareness signs at Sycamore Ranch and Hammon Grove last week. The signs (as pictured above) are intended to educate and make anglers and river walkers aware of the sensitivity of the nests that hold the future of the wild Chinook salmon run of the Lower Yuba River. Two more signs will be added on the Marysville side and the Grass valley side of the river in the weeks to come. Thanks Clay, Peter, and the rest of the conservation team from GCFF for taking the lead on this.

I’ve got plenty of days open in January for guide trips, personal Yuba Tours, and private instructional workshops. February is really booked up with presentations, and club workshops, so dates are limited. Remember to click on the highlighted words here to follow the links. You can always find out what’s on my calendar and the opportunities that are available on the “NEWS” page featured on my website, and of course stay tuned to my blog for any upcoming special events. Bring it on 2018! See you out there… 

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